12 February 2012 by Robyn Campbell

South Africa’s best cheese shop

At Cheese Gourmet it’s all about the cheese – and the bread, sausages, honey, jams, pickles, olives, nougat and meals.

I am a some-time believer in karma – usually when I stumble upon a wonderful new restaurant, or a food store I never knew existed. Finding the deli, Cheese Gourmet, in Linden was such a fateful blessing.

Opened in 2005, by Jo and Brian Dick, if you’re cheese lover, then this little store is pure gold. A fabulous place to soak up the neighbourhood vibes while you sip good coffee, and eat breakfast or lunch on the pavement in the sunshine, Cheese Gourmet is your one-stop glutton fest for the best local produce SA has to offer.

The store specialises in cheese, but be prepared to reach for your wallet as they also stock bread, sausages, honey, jams, pickles, olives, nougat and more. There are little tasting plates all around the shop, and Brian's and Jo’s sales patter is as irresistible as the morsels you’re urged to try. Resistance is futile. You will taste, you will buy, and you will go home with a new determination to seek out and support local food producers.

Just as artisan cheese-making has come a long way in South Africa over the last few decades, so Jo and Brian have single-handedly helped to educate local cheese lovers about the diversity, quality and variety of local cheese being produced in their backyard.

The shop stocks over 100 cheeses, of which more than 40 are made in SA. If you pop in, and neither Brian nor Jo is available, it’s because they are out scouring the countryside for new cheeses and ‘best of’ local produce.

Linden used to be one of the original farms on which Jo’burg was laid out and the area was renowned for its fruit trees.

Brian and Jo verge on being evangelical when it comes to keeping it local. In between running the shop, attending cheese festivals and seeking out up-and-coming cheese-makers, they have launched an initiative to encourage the local residents to make the most of urban fruit harvests.

Linden used to be one of the original farms on which Jo’burg was laid out and the area was renowned for its fruit trees. The remains of these orchards still exist in many back gardens and Brian and Jo are urging homeowners with fruiting trees to turn their seasonal harvests into jams and preserves to be sold at the shop, or to donate their excess fruits to other jam-makers in the area.

Cheese gourmet also hosts cheese educationals, themed dinners and innovative cheese pairings. They proved to me that cheese and brandy can be compatible, and they’ve even gone so far as to pair cheese and mampoer!

So next time you’re in Johannesburg, make time for a visit to Cheese Gourmet. You’ll feel like Alice in Wonderland at the extraordinary range of local cheeses they purvey. In fact, I guarantee you’ll experience an acute attack of Jabberwocky (trying to speak with a mouth full of cheese) after your visit as you strive to describe your discoveries. May the cheese be with you!

Physical address: 71 Seventh Street corner, 3rd Avenue, Linden, Johannesburg. Tel: +27 (0)11 8885384

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